Scottish Government
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Expansion of Scottish Attainment Challenge

More than £20 million for councils to improve attainment.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge will be extended to support up to 133 secondary schools across Scotland, and East Ayrshire and Renfrewshire will become challenge authorities, Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney announced yesterday.

Mr Swinney also confirmed more than £20 million will be allocated to challenge authorities during the second year of the initiative.

Speaking ahead of a national learning event at Hampden Park yesterday, at which he will address head teachers and representatives of schools and local authorities already engaged in the Scottish Attainment Challenge, Mr Swinney announced a package of action including:

  • Making East Ayrshire and Renfrewshire challenge authorities, taking the number of councils in the programme from seven to nine.
  • Extending the Attainment Challenge from August 2016 to all secondary schools in the nine challenge authority areas and other areas where primary schools are already receiving funding through the schools programme.
  • An additional £20 million will be devoted to raising attainment in primary schools in challenge authority areas in 2016-17.

Mr Swinney said:

“We must support and empower teachers to deliver an education system that gives all young people the chance to reach their potential and achieve their ambitions, and ensure our schools are places where young people can overcome inequality and succeed regardless of their background.

“Since we launched the Scottish Attainment Challenge last year the Scottish Government has supported hundreds of primary schools to develop their approaches to literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

“Local authorities and individual schools are already using the challenge to tailor new approaches to their own needs and circumstances. All 32 local authorities in Scotland now have a specialist Attainment Advisor working with their schools, and the new National Improvement Hub provides a range of online resources to help those working in the sector.

“This has been a good start, but I want to extend the reach, expand the scope and increase the pace of the Attainment Challenge.

“So, in addition to allocating more than £20 million to continue the work of the challenge authority primary programme into its second year; we will add East Ayrshire and Renfrewshire to the challenge authorities programme – both of which have significant levels of multiple deprivation.

“We will also increase the scope of the challenge to include secondary schools, both in the challenge authority areas and elsewhere where there are schools supporting young people who live in areas with significant levels of deprivation.

“All of this underlines the Scottish Government’s firm commitment to closing the gap between the educational attainment of young people in our most and least deprived areas over the next five years.”

Notes To Editors

Yesterday’s announcement confirms more than £20 million for the seven existing Challenge Authorities to take forward their work to support primary schools to improve attainment across the key areas of literacy, numeracy and wellbeing in 2016/17. This builds on the £11.7 million allocated to the seven Challenge Authorities last summer.

East Ayrshire and Renfrewshire take the number of Challenge Authorities to nine. The others are: Glasgow, Dundee, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire and North Lanarkshire. Additional funding to support the two new Challenge Authorities and the expansion of the initiative to support secondary schools will be announced when the new school year starts in August 2016, following consideration of Improvement Plans.

For more information about the Scottish Attainment Challenge, the Attainment Scotland Fund and the programmes it supports, visit:


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